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NEWS: PIA & Council of Canadians say Alberta ‘Water Conversation’ little more than government PR effort

The Canadian Press reports, “The Alberta government hopes community meetings this winter will bolster public confidence in how it manages water. A leaked draft plan says the government has been holding off on making decisions on water policy because of ‘challenges associated with trust’. Priority issues identified in the document include use of water in hydraulic fracturing, effective water management, sustainable drinking water and healthy lakes. …Two groups that released the leaked document, Public Interest Alberta and the Council of Canadians, say the plan is little more than public relations.”

“One of the groups that released the draft said the community meetings are little more than a public relations exercise and avoid dealing with an idea that has been floating around the government for years – selling access to Alberta’s water. ‘The main thing that we are concerned about is that the government is looking at perhaps setting up a water market to sell water licences,’ Bill Moore-Kilgannon of Public Interest Alberta said Friday. ‘That has very serious implications. Whoever would own those licences would control the future growth of cities. It would have an impact on our economy, agriculture and, ultimately, on our environment.'”

In the Our Water Is Not For Sale media release, Edmonton-based Council of Canadians organizer Scott Harris states, “This clearly isn’t the broad and meaningful consultation on the future of the province’s water that Albertans have been waiting for since the fall of 2008. It seems as though this process is about putting a tick in the box to say that Albertans have been consulted, without allowing them to actually address the issues or influence policy.”

The Canadian Press article adds, “The draft says the 20 community meetings will be called the “water conversation project” and will have a $1-million budget. …The meetings are to begin sometime in February. A list of which 20 communities could be involved isn’t final.”

The media release can be read at http://canadians.org/media/water/2013/11-Jan-13.html. The news article is at http://www.brandonsun.com/lifestyles/breaking-news/report-says-alberta-hopes-public-meetings-will-win-support-for-new-water-policy-186499111.html?thx=y. An additional Calgary Herald article is at http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/politics/Alberta+Tories+accused+burying+water+issues/7804299/story.html. Campaign blogs on water markets in Alberta can be read at http://canadians.org/blog/?s=%22water+market%22+%2B+%22alberta%22.